At Rise we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

Gordon Fong – Co-Owner of Kimcell Ltd.

 

We spoke with Gordon Fong the Co-Owner of Kimcell Ltd about hosting, servicing and the security of your networks.

 

 

RISE: What is your name and your role?

Gordon: Gordon Fong and I’m a co-owner of Kimcell Ltd as well as director of other X-Net consultancy businesses.

 

RISE: Tell us more about Datacenta Hosting?

Gordon: Datacenta is a Managed Hosting Provider that works with local businesses and government agencies.

Whilst we provide most things when you think of a traditional Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as ADSL lines, domain name registration, email hosting and web hosting, we actually focus on businesses that want to work actively with a technical partner. Datacenta takes on the routine management of their servers and applications 24 hours a day, so they are freed up to work on their business.

 

RISE: What should someone look for in a web host i.e. reliability, speed, storage, clarity?

Gordon: It comes down to getting the realistic level of service for what your business really needs. We are all different, but very few of us reading this are Amazon and have that level of budget. Nobody should be oversold to though. Are you happy to deal with a web portal, or do you want to talk to real people?

I know that was not a technical answer to the question, but service means a lot more. Competing in the commodity space is not for me.

 

RISE: What do you see as the main difference for a company that is driven purely by price i.e. happy to pay £50 a year on hosting, as opposed to company that is looking for a much more robust hosting solution?

Gordon: The value of the website and sales that it might bring has to be proportionate to the service spend.

If it is there to provide some contact details, then you don’t need to spend a lot as your Google Business listing will give that if all else fails. You’ve got your Google Business listing, right?

If it is a full e-commerce website that is pulling in tens of thousands of pounds per month, then even paying a few hundred pounds per year hosting doesn’t match the importance of it to the business.

Things fail. Google fails, Amazon fails, Facebook fails, there is a risk of failure no matter how large that business is. Microsoft’s Azure platform failed that then took out a load of high-profile websites.

With that in mind, be prepared, have options with different suppliers.

 

RISE: How do you look at website security today? Do you see the UK in a vulnerable space?

Gordon: I don’t see the UK as especially different to anywhere else. I will say that security is an on-going process and needs continual attention just like updates your desktop computer or your smartphone. Don’t assume when you have taken delivery of a website or have set it up yourself then that is it.

Installing an SSL Certificate so you get a nice green padlock when visiting your WordPress website makes it no more secure if you have left a load of old plugins around that you were trialling but decided not to use. That padlock counts for nothing if your admin password is weak or the software is out of date.

Someone has to spend the time to sign up to and read the alerts from the software suppliers that form part of your system. If there is an update, you need to take a backup, apply the update, test it and accept it or rollback if there is an issue. Either you do it, your website supplier does it, or your managed hosting provider does it but there is a time and cost associated with that.

A plain web hosting provider will rent out some infrastructure space but will not know what you do with it or care less, unless it impacts other customers.

 

RISE: If there is a website that is behaving slowly and loading takes a long time, how much could be down to where it is hosted?

Gordon: It could certainly be down to the hosting infrastructure. If you are on a shared server with tens or hundreds of other customers, then you take your chances and hope they don’t have busy websites at the same time.

It could be that you pay for a guaranteed level of network traffic and computing resources. Or, it could be something with your website application and plugins playing up.

I’ve had instances where one of our own websites was slow at returning pages. We rewrote a database query in a different way and that improved things massively. It’s easy to blame the hardware or throw more CPU at a problem but it’s just as common that developers make mistakes or have room for improvement.

 

RISE: What is your one tip you would give to a growing company who is looking at a hosting company that is more than just paying a monthly fee to a place they have no idea where they are being hosted?

Gordon: I would say consider what your increasing needs might be as you grow and consider who is going to manage that. It might be someone in-house who performs a pick-and-mix from the Internet every couple of years, or do you want to build a relationship with a supplier that you can have a conversation with, who will gain intimate knowledge of your business and systems, who can then propose more efficient and more cost effective approaches.

 

RISE: What would your advice be to anyone looking to get into the technology industry like you have?

Gordon: There are plenty of free online services that you can use to create websites and online services. Do it for a personal project or local community that you are part of. Learn some things along the way, no doubt you will make a few mistakes along the way. That all adds to your back story in your job interview.

At Rise we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

raina summerson CEO
Raina Summerson, Agincare Group CEO

 

 

We spoke with Raina Summerson the Group CEO at Agincare UK about the care industry, the highs, the lows and moving through the ranks.

 

 

 

 

RISE: What is your title and could you give us a short summary of what your day to day looks like at Agincare?

Raina: Group Chief Executive – covering all businesses within the group of Agincare companies. Due to the number of and diversity of services we provide, no two days are the same really but essentially my days will cover: looking at current business, considering where we are against budgeted and planned performance and looking to future business development. This activity is all set in the context of our vision, mission and values that underpin the business plan and core objectives. All of it involves a lot of liaison with people inside the business and external partners, such as local authorities, the NHS, our teams and other partners. Also, due to our national presence and scope of business, linking in with regional and national policy work in the sector, for example with professional associations, other large providers and organisations such as the Department of Health and Social Care, Skills for Care, Association of Directors of Social Services and the Local Government Association.

RISE: What do you love most about your job?

Raina: The purpose, the people and the variety. Above all the fact that what Agincare and our teams do makes a real difference to peoples’ lives at critical times and the fact that I get to support and influence that and the wider sector in some way. Also, the feeling of satisfaction of being part of a fantastic team building an increasingly successful and sustainable business that gives employment, development, networks and a sense of place and friendship to around 4,000 people. Small moments of interaction with people who use our services or on talking with our teams are often the highlights of my week.

RISE: How did you get to where you are today?

Raina: I started as a frontline care worker when I was 19, working in a variety of roles covering hospitals, care homes and community. This led me to work for Social services where I was seconded to do my social work training, which I completed in 1997; following further development in this role and achievement of my MA in the evenings, I became a social care regulator for what is now the Care Quality Commission. In 2004, I had the opportunity to join a small but growing family business – Agincare – and the rest is history!

RISE: What is it like working within care? Are there highs and lows?

Raina: I have always been passionate about social care and supporting people, challenging injustice and it’s all I know as a career. There are certainly challenges and resilience is needed both in a personal and business capacity. There is a lot of frustration over the lack of understanding, funding and support of the workforce from government and therefore wider society. Fundamental issues that are causing critical shortfalls in care are simply not addressed and there are consequences that everyone in the sector – workforce and people receiving support services and their families alike – are feeling. That can be hard for people and off-putting. As a care provider or an individual within the sector (in any role), there is a great sense of responsibility. Feeling that you have let anyone down on a personal or professional level, even if not your ‘fault’ is the most difficult part of working in this sector. Offset though by those moments of interaction with people where you can see ‘I/we made a difference’ and the fun, camaraderie and commitment shared in daily work. You can always do something right, do what you do well and always make a difference even within such a difficult system. Overall, I feel amazingly lucky to love what I do and still have such an interest in it after all these years.

RISE: If you were going to give advice to someone that was thinking of starting a career in care, what would you say?

Raina: Go for it and don’t let people put you off! The world is your oyster. There are so many wonderful jobs in the sector, so many different paths for development and something for everyone – values, kindness, compassion and personality are key, the rest might be complex at times but can be learned. Some excel at frontline care work and want to remind providing an essential role there but others develop into team leader, manager roles, head office support roles, nurses, OTs, Social workers or into policy or Directorships. As the current Department of Health and Social Care campaign says ‘every day is different’. People don’t tend to come into it for the glamour or recognition or the money and working conditions, though despite what people believe there are actually many well paid career options in the sector.

So many people hate their jobs, it’s a chore and a way to earn a living. Most people in social care don’t feel that, even though their jobs are tough and they may be tired and want to work different hours or earn more money. If they are still there after a few weeks, they usually love what they do and feel rewarded by it. That’s a great charm of the sector!

RISE: When you made the decision to be a sponsor of the Rock Star Awards (our awards show that celebrates young people across Dorset and Hampshire) this year what was your main reason for this?

Raina: Having attended the last awards, I was blown away by the whole event and stories told. It was a brilliant concept, well organised and a great platform to showcase young people and celebrate what they do – sometimes despite very adverse conditions. This aligned with my own personal and professional experience and awareness of many young people in caring roles doing amazing work or personal caring, who simply get no recognition for this. So, Agincare sponsoring this new ‘Young Carer’ category felt right for us, for the Rock Star Awards and to help raise awareness of care and the stories of caring that are around us all every day.

A business is guided by its decisions and convictions. As it grows the values become a shining light.

 

Having values means an empowered workforce.

 

When it comes to instilling a belief in empowerment, this is echoed by packaging and design company Avec UK. A Dorset based business that has seen substantial growth since its origins in 2012 and led by owner Becks Beere and a team of nearly 40 people.

 

Rise MD, Angela Piromalli and Becks both discussed the importance of building and promoting a culture that is real and has the ability to attract new team members where everyone has a unified voice.

 

How Do You Build A Company Culture?

 

It is a well-used term when a company promotes the virtues of ‘building a culture,’ but how does a business leader instill this? Becks explained, “When it comes to recruitment, I want people to buy into the business. I genuinely research people and see if they are the right fit from the outset. I will never outsource the recruitment to someone else on the team. This is a company I have built with my own hands. It is my responsibility to nurture and grow this close-knit family.

 

“I have to sell the business to others, just as much as a candidate wants to work with Avec. I want people to buy into me and my company.

 

“Avec is about getting people on board this rocket ship that we are all building. I want people to be a part of it, not a cog in a faceless business.”

 

Angela highlighted the importance of both candidate and employer having a mutual understanding. “Companies find strong talent by not sitting on their laurels. Both sides have to sell themselves. When candidates and clients are both on the same side of the road, not heading in opposite directions, it comes down to one simple trait, open communication.”

 

The Charter That Everyone Dances To

 

The importance of communication is something that is part of Avec. They have a charter that each member of the company refers to and comes back to. Becks says, “Whilst we all know what the business feels like, can we put it into words?

 

“It is important to communicate what we will succeed in and what challenges lie ahead. The team all have an active role to play. As well as the grander vision, the smaller things matter too, such as no one is allowed to huff in the workplace and everyone puts their empty plates, bowls and cups in the dishwasher. It is something we expect from each other.

“Any company that is attracting new employees need to stand up and say, ‘this is us, is this you?’”

 

The Avec charter is used as a tool for performance measurement. It is there to inform decisions and for the entirety of the team to recognise what they signed up to.

 

Trust In The Employer

 

According to the Association of Accounting Technician’s (AAT), the average UK employee will spend 3,515 full days at work over the course of their lifetime. Angela stated, “People spend a huge proportion of their lives at work. Businesses having transparency means that everyone needs to know what they are signing up to. Having something such as the Avec charter means there is alignment between the business, its responsibility and its values.”

 

Building a base for development, support and growth is a key part of a business that has longevity. People are now looking more than ever at businesses to lead and create a sense of place.

 

According to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, this report looks at how much the public trust government, media and business. The latest 2019 report points to the vital role that companies play.

Within the study, people place more trust in their companies than in political leaders. There is a notable shift in trust to the relationships people have within their control, most notably UK employers.

When it comes to mutual trust, this is something that Avec has in abundance. Becks highlights, “Business owners need to put the emphasis on their team to discover and find their own answers. Perfection is not the only solution. I want people to succeed they need to be supported.

 

“We found out that people are not necessarily motivated by money. Every two years we profile the business and the team. From our own studies, we can see that people are motivated by security, a sense of validation and encouragement to be creative. It is the responsibility for a business owner to have a responsibility for others, this is how trust is earned. We also could see what demotivates the team. The majority do not like public recognition.”

 

What about the future of an expanding company? Becks concludes, “I will give everything away for others to provide direction. However, I will not give away the customer relationship and the most precious resource, finding the right people. The company culture is one that has to be protected and championed.

 

Conclusion

 

If a company has values, they truly have to live them. This is something that Avec UK truly believe in.

 

It all comes down to the behaviour of how a company presents itself to the outside world and the obligation it has to those who work within the business.

 

Having values is more than a buzzword and something that you shout loudly on LinkedIn. It is the groundwork for a robust company culture that stands the test of time and to remain continually relevant to those that have a continual touch point with a company.

At Rise we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.


We spoke with James Spinks the Sales Director at Grapevine about the incoming 5G technology, and how you get into the industry at hand.

 

RISE: How has telecoms advanced over the last 5-10 years with such a huge boom in the technology industry?

James: 10 years ago, IT and telecommunications were fundamentally separate.  As telecoms technology evolved, IT did the same and there was no doubt about the coming merger of the two. We now have lots of new integrated computer / phone / internet of things (IOT) solutions changing business and consumer landscapes, driven by the IT and telecoms convergence and the decreasing margins on traditional single product solutions

RISE: With the promise of 5G on the horizon, have you had any insight as to how this will change your business and the world of telecoms?

James: From a user’s perspective, 5G will fundamentally change how connectivity, applications and content are consumed, whilst from a provider’s perspective, 5G presents enormous opportunities for network efficiency to deliver innovative services.

RISE: Have you found that you have had to instil more security features as data breaches become more and more apparent it would seem?

James: Whilst we have always been security focused in our core specialities, the GDPR mandate has driven us to streamline the data we use and store, find more efficient ways to communicate with our clients, and help our client base with their own security challenges, through the proactive offering of cost-efficient subscription based security software and innovative hardware solutions.

RISE: Regarding the above have you seen a decline in trust with your clients and how have you mitigated this?

James: As a provider of solutions to our client base for over 25 years trust has never been an issue and we have used this platform to reassure our clients wariness through the provision of appropriate solutions for their requirements, rather than profiteering from the scaremongering in the wider press.

RISE: Do you find marketing campaigns useful in managing and retaining this trust and also to engage and inform your clients?

James: Marketing communications has been key through the transformation of our business, from a reseller of mobile contracts to a fully integrated IT and telecoms service provider. The focus of our marketing communications has been to educate. This has allowed us to both reassure our clients that we are ahead of emerging trends in technology and showcase the benefits of new solutions available to their business.

RISE: Within the world of telecoms, is there ever an easier route in, for example having specific qualifications or is it a case of working your way up?

James: Because the majority of our solutions are bespoke, experience and qualifications are never mandatory.  However, achieving good qualifications is proof of a commitment to a target. Application of both intelligence and hard work and will always be a yardstick by which to compare candidates.  Honesty, integrity and common sense are more valuable commodities in employees than ever before and the challenge is for an individual to convey these strengths in a CV or interview environment.

RISE: Is there any new technologies that we should be aware of that is going to ‘change the game’ like the Cloud did?

James: Given the superior specification of the forthcoming 5G platform, this new technology will change the game for both mobile and fixed communications.  The promise of faster, more agile and secure wireless technology provides the opportunity to bring scalability, security and universal mobility across the telecommunications industry, with expected benefits to all industries from improved broadcasting to automation through IOT.

At Rise we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

 

We spoke with Maria Seabright the Finance and HR Director of Greendale Construction to ask her a little bit about how she got into what she is doing now and how they are shaping the world of construction for young people in our area.

 

RISE: What is your name and what is your role at Greendale Construction?

Maria: My name is Maria Seabright and I am the Finance & HR Director.

RISE: How did you get into the construction industry? Did you work your way up to the role you are in today?

Maria: Previously to joining Greendale Construction I was working in the waste disposal industry which worked alongside the Construction industry.  I wanted to change careers and answered an advert in the Bournemouth Echo for an Admin Assistant / Receptionist (I still have the original advert in my personnel file!).  So on the 1st October 1997 I joined Greendale Construction.  My role was to answer the phone, and to provide admin and secretarial support.  When I joined the company their turnover was £1m.  As the company grew my role within the organisation grew.  I started doing the accounts (which were originally outsourced) so also became Accounts Manager.  In 2000 We moved into larger premises and engaged more staff so again my role changed to Office Manager.  In 2009 we moved to Old Generator House where we now have 19 admin/senior managers based in the office and the number of staff that we employ grew to 50.  On the 1st January 2013 I was promoted to Finance & HR Director at the same time Andy Musselwhite was promoted to Contracts Director.  This now meant that the company had 4 directors on the board.  I was so honoured and privileged to be asked to become a Director of this great company that I had seen go from strength to strength.  I have now been with the company 22 years this year.

RISE: As great sponsors (and believers!) of the Rock Star Awards, how do you make your workplace inclusive for young people starting out?

Maria: We strongly believe that we have a responsibility as an organisation to train for the future of the industry – this means that we are very active in recruiting apprentices.  Apprentices can be for various trades; site carpentry, bricklaying or Painting & Decorating.  We also engage Graduates where the company financially support any university fees, meaning that they can study for a degree without having to get into debt, and ensure that every apprentice / graduate has a 1-1 mentor that helps them with their training.  We also offer work experience placements for students (majority being of school age) – this gives them an insight into what actually happens on a construction site or within a construction office if it is a career that they wish to embark on.  We interview every student that applies for works experience as we believe that this gives them valuable experience in attending an interview with an employer.  It also allows us to see what the student wants to gain out of their works experience so we tailor their training to reflect this.   Because of the number of graduates / apprentices that have trained / qualified with us over the years we know that they make great mentors for the other young people coming through the company and we encourage ex apprentices and ex graduates to actually mentor some of these young employees.   In 2018 we won the Dorset Business Award for “Developing Talent”.  It was wonderful to be recognised for the great work that we do with developing talent within our organisation.

RISE: From what we know of you, you are a very charitable company and truly believe in giving back to your community – do you think that makes you all more effective as a workforce?

Maria: We do an awful lot of charity work and also working with schools & colleges to promote the industry.  Again we feel it is important to give something back to the community.  We have a nominated charity every year that we raise money for – this charity is voted for by the employees and this is really important as they are contributing / giving something back to who they have chosen to support.  We are also currently looking to introduce some volunteer days within the company – this will be where an employee can volunteer within the community one day a year.  This volunteer day encompasses  our mental health & wellbeing in the workplace policy.  By allowing our employees to give something back and volunteering to help other for a day makes them feel good.

RISE: Do you think the construction industry is slowly becoming more approachable for both men and women?

Maria: More women are becoming more interested in working within the construction industry.  This is very evident when I am attending careers events at schools & colleges as more young ladies approach me to ask about working in the industry, be it becoming an architect, or working on site, or learning a trade.  I do think that employers within the construction industry are now more open to engaging women within the industry.

RISE: What advice would you give to a young person looking to get into directorship one day?

Maria: Being a director to any company is a massive responsibility. It has its good days and its bad days however it is wonderful to be in a position where you can see the company grow and the people around you excel in their chosen profession.  It is hard work and requires total dedication to the business.  It can be stressful but it is how you manage that stress – it is essential to get your work life balance right.  Do things away from the office that help you re-charge your batteries so that you have the strength the tackle each day head on.  A business is only as good as the team around you to make sure that you employ the right people that will embrace the company ethos and who all work in the same direction to make the company bigger and better.  Be a director that is approachable – always have an open door policy for your staff to talk to you if they have any concerns or problems.  Share your business plan with all your staff, that way they all know what you are trying to achieve as a business and they will be working towards the same goal.

The companies who drive change and adapt are the ones who will have a competitive edge.

There will always be companies that hang on to old working structures. Today is more than putting people in jobs.

The mindset is more than simply having someone fill an empty desk. The time has now come to equip businesses to make the change to flexibility in their employment practices.

Let’s look at re-evaluating our working mindsets.

Where Can Employers Go Wrong?

When looking for a driven and dedicated mindset, it is easy for employers to slip up and make some common mistakes. You can’t expect your workforce to know how to behave if they have been given little or no guidance. Angela Piromalli, MD for Rise, strongly believes in empowering employees as a way of improving attitudes.

Angela states, “You need to identify the right mentality in an employee but also find out what an employee needs from you. It is the employer’s job to enable someone to be their best.

“Businesses have a more collaborative approach now, so taking everyone’s needs into consideration is essential.”

Appreciating everyone’s value in a company doesn’t necessarily have to come across in pay. From simply heading a side project or having more flexible time by job sharing (something that doesn’t impact cost for the company), employees stay happy and hand in hand continue to work to their fullest capability.

Flexibility Within Your Work

With work taking up a significant amount of your week, being flexible within that is fundamental to having a positive view of your job. For instance, Fleur Cook, Marketing Marketing within Rise has taken on responsibility for the 2019 Rock Star Awards. This provides others with a sense of leadership and more importantly ownership, within their contracted hours. Just because you have a job title does not mean you should be doing the same routine every day of the week.

Not only does wider responsibility keep you intrigued, but it can also bring credibility, confidence and pride in that you are working to create something entirely yours. Being given responsibility within the company keeps employees happy, and that passion alongside responsibility draws the team closer together:

Angela says, “All our employees should have flexibility too. You should trust the people you work with and decide your priorities.”

“If someone is late to work, it does not matter. We know the same people would voluntarily stay late at the weekend if they needed to. Having the right people with the right values is essential.”

Having The Right Values And Bringing Them Into The Workplace

If everyone in the workplace has a common collective goal, things fall into place.

Toni Taylor, Rise Office Manager stated, “If a business instills no trust in the people they are working with and people do not work together, things will not run smoothly.”

“Taking on that new and fresh way of seeing a business as a community means it is more likely to succeed. Businesses who see people are commodities will be the ones who will fail.”

“This isn’t just a job. It’s a career. It is give and take on both ends — the more you put in the more we give you back and vice versa.”

Within Rise, we believe that the nature of a person comes first, as skillset can always be learnt. Recruiting wise, attitude comes before experience.

On an organisational side, we are seeing this in abundance with the quality of the applicants for the 2019 Rock Star Awards, not just those who have made it to the final stages, but the majority of people who applied this year.

Behind The Curtain Of The Workplace

Learning more about the people behind a company can tell a thousand stories. With our up and coming ThinkTank initiative, we want to look more into the people and find out how different work methods impact stress and wellbeing. This will provide us with data to improve ourselves and companies around us.

Seeing what makes our employees the best versions of themselves, we can build towards a happier and more productive workforce. We are always looking for new companies to get involved too.

Knowing how to not only attract but keep staff is fundamental to a good working attitude too, and with that mindset comes longevity in that career path.

Communication is of the utmost importance, and in maintaining a good relationship with colleagues does not always have to be work related — you are allowed to talk about non-work matters, and build a strong relationship. Virtues and values interchange in all aspects of life.

Let’s Conclude

When the employer and employee mindset is right, things fall into place.

Being surrounded by others who care about you past the working day makes a significant difference in working life.

Gone are the days of traditional office small-talk and solely searching for skillsets, we are welcoming with open arms a more fluid and friendly work environment where people feel valued. Let’s tread this new path together.

If you would like to come onboard our ThinkTank programme, where we will test new working models intended on having an impact on you and your business, then step forward with us in our pilot programme. Let’s rise together. To find out a bit more email fleur@letsrise.co.uk